The ´great´ ABS-CBN fire sale

OPINION
By SUSAN PALMES-DENNIS
July 27, 2020

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CHARLOTTE, North Carolina--As a long standing member of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club (COPC),  I join my colleagues in roundly condemning a recent Facebook post made by the Malaybalay PNP precinct that was taken down almost as quick as it was posted.  The FB post in question tagged those who voiced condemnation on Congress´s rejection of ABS-CBN´s franchise as enemies of the state, aka terrorists.

I read COPC president Manny Jaudian´s statement on the case along with a post by PNP-10 Press Corps President Michael Bustamante condemning the FB post which, as a semi-retired local media practitioner, I fully support.  Good thing the PNP-10 office heeded both the COPC and PNP-10 sentiments and ordered the takedown of the FB post, along with an order for the Malaybalay police precinct to explain this grievious mistake to say the least.

Criticism of government policies should not be shuttered or silenced but instead raised to the bar of public opinion and discourse. That´s a basic tenet of democracy which our law enforcers and our military should be repeatedly reminded of this regardless of who is their commander-in-chief.  But with the underhanded Red-tagging of some local media practitioners under this incumbent administration, I´m not surprised about the FB post.

That said, the FB post is just part of the bigger picture which is the Duterte administration´s dismantling of the ABS-CBN network in order to re-configure it into their personal machinery to supposedly use as part of government interventions for education in the countryside amid the restrictions in place for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

But anyone whose brains aren´t fried or indoctrinated by the Duterte fanatics/troll propaganda army know by now that the ABS-CBN network´s facilities can and will likely be used to advance the candidacy of President Rodrigo Duterte´s daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte in the 2020 elections.

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To anyone who thinks ABS-CBN´s fate ended the moment Congress recently rejected its franchise application, a congressman´s declaration calling on ABS-CBN to sell their franchise in order to save their employees (I won´t bother naming the lawmaker because I want to avoid publicizing administration lapdogs as much as possible) is clear proof that the network´s turmoil is not yet over.

In fact, the congressional rejection is part and parcel of the Duterte administration´s strategy to co-opt the network by pressuring the owners, the Lopez family,  into agreeing to a ´fire sale´ of ABS-CBN to one of its favored money bags who will then buy the network at a bargain basement, dirt cheap price.  Hence that congressman´s statement to ABS-CBN management to sell the network in order to save the employees who will lose their jobs next month.

A fire sale as defined is the sale of goods at low prices by the seller whose property was destroyed by fire. Nowadays a fire sale means the discounted sale of goods or property by the owner who faces bankruptcy or financial distress.  With ABS-CBN´s franchise bid rejected,  the administration allies are counting on stock holders to sell their shares to the public, effectively abandoning the ship that won´t dock anywhere so long as this administration remains in power.

The Lopez family are rich and won´t worry about their next meal unlike the families of the employees who will lose their jobs next month. Already the administration allies are demonizing the family to pressure them to sell the network at dirt cheap prices to their favored crony —there I said it.  Or they can simply seize the network´s facilities and satellite stations for their own uses.

And so the country is forced to watch the unfolding of this whole ABS-CBN saga in the backdrop of an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which wouldn´t have been this severe in this part of the world if the President enforced an early travel ban in the first place.  I only hope that the owners won´t fold and the network won´t be converted into yet another propaganda tool wielded by the likes of administration lapdogs like Mocha Uson and her contemptible crew.


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